This right here is a controversial can of worms on so many levels…
Hopefully, if you have come across this blog post you will be able to read/hear my actual words and hold off on judgement. If not, than I hope you will be able to at least hold your tongue.
Because, despite what some groups of people/bloggers are declaring across the internet- there are some truths about the Fifty Shades of Grey series that many uninformed are turning the other cheek to.
Before I continue, I need to state that yes, i AM A CHRISTIAN. I am not ashamed of this. More than anything in the world, I freaking LOVE Jesus.
And I read all three of these books.
And no, I am not ashamed.
So, whether you agree with my insight or not, I needed to spotlight that I am coming at this from the perspective of a 36 year old, happily married mom, and a Christian.
We good? Ok…
Whenever anyone learns I read these books, the first whispered quearion I get is “are they really that good?” Well, to that I say: Define good…
These books are not the best written books on the market, but they really don’t need to be.
The second thing I say is: They are not porn.
There is a popular “gift book” series called Porn for Women. These cute little photo books feature attractive, shirtless men doing household chores. Their intent is funny… Funny because, though it is not often the case, a great deal of women are not visually stimulated by the idea of porn, like men are. The idea is that while a man may be attractive, it is him doing the dishes that is the actual turn on. They say a woman only need stand there and a man can have sex with her in his mind. There is a difference…
While the 50 shades series does have some graphically depicted sex, I do not believe this is why they are so popular. I believe they are popular because they rip down a barrier and talk about things that women have been taught not to worry about.
Don’t take my word for it though, do a little research.
Since the E.L. James series began to spike in popularity, marriage counselors across the country have indicated a rise in couples wanting to spice up and save their marriages. Many of those counselors have publicly noted the positive impact that the books are having, primarily with women, and their response/change of heart regarding sex.
This is huge.
Speaking from a Christian standpoint recently, it has only been within the last 10 (or so) years that Christian authors have begun really pointing out that husband’s need sex and wives need to be better about meeting that need. I just read a book entitled Sacred Influence, which is a Christian perspective book, for wives, and in it- the author encourages women to be willing to get creative sexually with her husband. In an oppressed mindset though, what does that even mean? It’s a generalization like “dress more stylish.” Without an idea of what that could mean- it’s a fairly overwhelming idea. There is so much more to say about a lot of this, but my point is, non-fiction religious marriage books have been saying and saying this, but suddenly a bunch of house wives secretly read these poorly written twilight fan-fiction books and suddenly they wake up and are willing to listen because all of a sudden they “get it”. Like some form of a parable.
Also, the desire to have sex WITH THEIR HUSBANDS (which is the opposite affect the standard romance novel has, as they lead women to find further disappointment in their husbands) has skyrocketed.
How exactly is this is a bad thing?
Back to the research…
When the movie The Notebook was released, the conventional marriage saw quite the opposite effect. While, at the surface, it seems you have a beautiful love story about an elderly couple and their devoted life to one another- instead what you had was a movie inspiring unfullfilled women all over the country suddenly questioning where their first love was, and thanks to (then) myspace, (and now facebook) it was all too easy to rekindle that connection. Affairs were happening and women were abandoning their marriages in search of their own Noahs.
How exactly was this a good thing?
AND YET… A good deal of women will happily admit to loving the Notebook while also exclaiming, with disgust, that they would never read Fifty Shades of Grey.
I think, all too often, someone (with good intentions) gets word of something trending (in this instance a piece of incredibly popular erotic fiction) and they try to use their voice to spare others before something awful happens. What ensues though, is often ignorant judgement. Why ignorant? Because your opinion on the subject is based on here say, and fear…
So here’s how it is for me:
– I DO NOT read erotic fiction.
– I was sexually abused.
– as a result, I tend to not really feel comfortable with sexual content in ANY platform of entertainment.
– I do not read romance books either. I find them shallow and unrealistic. (to point out, the statistics of romance novel readers are more often unhappy housewives who purposefully keep a barrier between themselves and the disappointment husbands.)
– I love the Twilight books.
– a girlfriend told me about the fan fiction site where EL James began, years ago. I read bits of it, but wasn’t impressed.
– a different girlfriend told me, this spring, about the Grey books. She encouraged me to read the first one. I was beyond skeptical.
– I read the series in one week.
– I found the main male character fascinating. Having been sexually abused, (and going on to work with and parent kids with similar backgrounds) I found the nature behind his own childhood sexual abuse to be fascinating, as well as how it affected him clear into adulthood.
– Sex is very seldom healthily talked about. In marriages. With children. This also pertains to sexual abuse, sadly.
– I believe the result of such hushed topics is shame in the survivors, further patterns of abuse (self seeking and in cyclic generational abuse) and the continued focus of an oversexed society where girls continue to grow up feeling less worthy and boys continue to grow up respecting women less.
– As the story progressed I realized that so much of the “sex” in the book could be metaphorical for any type of self preservation we build around ourselves to keep from being vulnerable.
– I saw, in the character, a significant attachment disorder. Again, being something I deal with on a regular basis- this fascinated me.
– beyond the poor writing, there was a story here that more than touched me- it healed me.
– when it is all said and done, the story is that of a marriage. It is about a man and woman who, beyond all circumstance, learn to love and trust each other unconditionally- even when it costs them personally. It is about putting the needs of your spouse above your own always, and it addresses these issues in raw ways and making the core of their relationship one about commitment over “feeling”…
– I was sexually abused. Following the years of this, I was sent to live in a fairly oppressive environment. Sex was bad.
– When, at 17, I had sex- I just knew it was wrong.
– even after i was married, and for years to follow, there were significant struggles with shame, remorse and guilt that would cycle through my mind and heart when it came to sex. It was an ugly, ugly pattern.
– In a very in your face, and raw way- these books made me think about sex.
– NO, not like that.
– they made me ask myself “what is so bad about wanting to have sex with your husband? Why is that wrong?”
– It made me realize that it wasn’t bad to enjoy sex with my husband. It forced me to confront that this was not a bad thing. That I was not bad.
– if you haven’t been in this position, I am so happy for you. to live with such guilt and pressure is suffocating.
– My husband and I sat down and had the rawest conversation about sex and it was amazing the misconceptions and insecurities that had dangled, unspoken, for so many years.
– I have several friends who have read it. I have two friends (nameless unless they say otherwise) who believe their marriages were saved because of the realities the books helped them face re: their own thought errors.
Here’s the thing… If you don’t feel comfortable reading the books- don’t read them. If you aren’t interested- don’t read them. If you feel convicted re: their content- don’t read them. They are crass, some people have issues with that… They just aren’t books for anyone.
But please stop judging the women who do read them because someone told you they are mommy-porn. If you read them and decide you feel they ARE Mommy porn, then by all means verbalize your opinion. But don’t spread ignorance because “Someone said…” I don’t regret reading them and this IS something I have prayed about and I feel pretty clear. This isn’t a justification or an excuse. Others will have different stories, and that’s ok. This is mine… Reading these books metaphorically helped me see things that years of therapy and marriage had never helped me see and I am better for that.
No person on this planet has a right to judge that.
So there you go…